Recently, in an interview with SD Voyager they asked about the challenges of getting healthy. Here was my response:
For years I prioritized getting enough sleep. Then a few months ago, I became a parent. Now I’m intimately more familiar with sleep deprivation, and the immediate effects: I’m having difficulty finding words, my conversational skills are plummeting, and my concentration isn’t what it was before. I wanted to know how much it was impacting my long-term health, so I looked into it, and sleep is even more important than I imagined.
When I was in naturopathic medical school, at Bastyr University, I took a biofeedback rotation where all we did with our patients was hook them up to sensors, and teach them how to relax. We didn't use medicines, vitamins, herbs, or physically adjust them. We had to rely solely on the "medicines" our patients' bodies could make on their own.
A clumsy dog can dislodge a loose stone, plopping it into the water, and revealing this small satisfaction. But it takes a human to divulge the secret of a stone skipping across water.
As you may know, Rembrandt is one of the most recognized names in art. And he wasn't one of those artists that only became famous after he died - during his lifetime he enjoyed fame and fortune.
At one point in his career Rembrandt was commissioned by the Amsterdam City Council to paint what would be his largest canvas yet - fifteen feet tall, fifteen feet wide! The painting would be hung in a prominent spot in Town Hall for all to see. The commission was a great honor, and surely would go down in history.
Rembrandt spent nearly a year painting The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis, and presented it to the City Council. The painting was hung in Town Hall as planned. Then, about a month later, for reasons that are not clear, the painting was returned to the artist. Rembrandt was asked to make some changes, and certainly that's what the artist did.
We don't know exactly what was said about his painting, but clearly Rembrandt felt rejected. He took a knife to the canvas, and cut away nearly 75% of the original work. He never returned the painting to Town Hall. Instead he decided to look for another buyer. Maybe he did that to feel he was being true to himself. He certainly could have made the changes, and returned the painting to collect his paycheck.
Rejection is something we all face, and it's a signal that something needs to change. We can change what was offered, and hope we've met the expectations for us, or we can change who are making our offering to. What probably won't work is changing nothing and making the same offering where we were previously rejected.
Banksy's work is highly controversial, satirical, and really begs the question, "what is art?" That's the point. Critics criticize, but the impact is undeniable. It's true, Banksy's work is nothing like Rembrandt's. The world has changed, and so have the expressions of art. The same is true for the practice of medicine.
One reason we love traveling is the novelty or "newness" of the moments we get. Our minds crave this, and most of the time we're in a constant state of trying to find it. The funny thing is, this "newness" is happening right under our noses. Nature wants us to notice these changes. So how do we find this inspiration and excitement in our "everyday life?"
Did the daylight savings time change throw a wrench in your body's natural rhythms? Here are 5 ways I help patients naturally adjust to time changes.
On any given day, there's a lot to do, isn't there? So much happens before we even consider that our day has "started." We go through the motions on autopilot, each Tuesday morning seems like the previous Tuesday morning. But is this true? If so, what are we doing it all for? The weekend, retirement, a big vacation, our name on a plaque somewhere, something else?
When we think we have a lot of time left, we get good at putting important things off - "I'll get to that stuff later." When we think we don't have a lot of time left, we start to question whether we spent our time well - "Should I have put in so much time at the office all those years?" If we're either putting the important things off, or wondering if we did enough important things, when do we really get to live? And what does it mean to really live?
I think this is where the idea of mindfulness can help us. Being mindful of the moment we're in right now, means we're really living right now! Being mindful of ourselves gives us the chance to notice, and decide how to respond to the constant changes in our life.
If you have an interest in mindfulness, but haven't settled into a routine yet, I invite you to try an app like Headspace or Stop, Breathe, and Think. Our phones have become inextricable parts of who we are, so we might as well make friends.
Good Health is Built Like an Empire
In general, when your health changes quickly, it's not good. Years of wear, tear, and abuse can't be reversed overnight. For that to happen, we've got to make tiny steps in a single direction.
What you're seeing in this photo (besides Nicole's and my feet) are cobblestones outside the Colosseum in Rome. The Colosseum is roughly 2000 years old, so I imagine these stones have been there since at least then. I distinctly remember having the feeling of being connected to all of humankind while I was taking this photo. Imagine the many millions of feet that have stood on this very spot!
Looking around a city like Rome it's clear to see where the cliche "Rome wasn't built in a day" comes from. Even the Colosseum had scaffolding around it for repairs while we were there. Our health is much the same - small decisions to eat this, rather than that, respond with curiosity, rather than anger - these decisions build the "Rome" that is our health.
Sometimes it's helpful to imagine what we'll "be" when we get to our goal. But many times the thousands of steps it will take to get there seem overwhelming. Focus instead on this step, now. Commit to just one step, and take it. The challenge of taking a step goes down the more of them we take.
Michael Stanclift, N.D.
Naturopathic Doctor - Carlsbad, California